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back to article Pluto still a planet, says Ronald McDonald

Those of you who prefer to protect your kids from US scientific propaganda would do well to steer clear of McDonalds, which has apparently decided it doesn't approve of the 2006 International Astronomical Union ruling which booted Pluto out of the league of planets. Try this Happy Meal box for fairly damning evidence of Ronald …

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Anonymous Coward

This is what happens...

...when you get your degree in Astronomy from Hamburger University.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamburger_University

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Semantic wranglings?

It is officially a dwarf planet. Doesn't make it still a planet. My dwarf begonias are still begonias and my dwarf apple tree still produces apples. Therefore a dwarf planet is in the superset 'plenets', QED.

But hey let's not miss good opportunity to get a dig in at the arch enemy.

Is it beer o'clock yet?

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Anonymous Coward

What were they thinking?

Lying about science? I expect McDonald's will lose a large proportion of their literate customers (approx. 2 people).

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Anonymous Coward

Well....

I don't like McDonalds but in this case I agree with them. It's too late to change now, Pluto is a planet, end of story.

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Pint

@david 63

I owe you a beer.

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FAIL

What's a planet?

Whenever science borrows a word with established usage, it doesn't overturn the established usage. Within our solar system, the established usage of planet is simply one of the nine. Attempts by nerds to eliminate one of them are as doomed as attempts by (similar?) nerds to change the emphasis when pronouncing Uranus.

Even with my science hat on, I'd have to point out that the IAU's definition is itself not based on rigorously applied objective criteria, so perhaps there *is* no scientific term "planet" and the established usage is the only well-defined one. That would make Ronald McDonald rather smarter than all the nerds.

Yes, I know, we had all this argument when the original decision was made, but the real story here is that the nerdy campaign to re-write the dictionary isn't working.

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Can't have it both ways

If Pluto is a planet, then there are probably something like 20 or more planets, since there are other bodies out there that are at least as large as Pluto is. Either there are 8, or a heck of a lot, pick one.

If you want to claim it's a planet due to history, then there are still more than 9 planets, because the minor planets such as Ceres and Pallas were considered planets when first discovered.

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Headmaster

Since we're on the pedantry subject

... wouldn't it be an "occurrence", not an "occurance"?

Anyway, this is the same place which insists its food (and I use that word in the loosest possible way) is healthy. How much of their printed material do *you* believe?

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Coat

Dwarves

To echo david 63, dwarves are still people! It's this kind of prejudice that is driving kids away from sciences. Won't somebody please think of the children??

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Troll

The biggest mouth must be right

[... discovered by Illinois native Clyde Tombaugh. Earlier this year, the state ordered that "March 13, 2009 be declared 'Pluto Day'... in honor of the date its discovery was announced in 1930"...]

McDonald's HQ is also in Illinois, so this probably WAS propaganda as opposed to ignorance.

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@HFoster

Glad you understood it. I must learn to read the stuff that I write.

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Joke

Pluto

But he's still a dog right?

Phew...

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Grenade

Illinois declared Pluto day?

Well, good! I'm glad to see that Illinois has solved all their problems and has so little to worry about that they can declare a Pluto day. You know, now that there is no corruption, crime is eliminated, schools are fine, the kids aren't beating up someone who's different, roads are in good shape, the economy is humming, there is a surplus of money in the government coffers, the tolls have been eliminated, the Cubs are in the playoffs, ...

And david 63, love the "arch enemy". Bravo!

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Pint

Umm,

they're wrong, either way you spin it.

If Pluto is not a planet, they should have left it off. If it is, then they've forgotten the others

My opinions on the exact rules of what is or is not a planet don't matter here, but if Pluto is a planet then McDonalds has failed to list the others. I can't find any reasonable rule (other than "because we said so") that would give us just 9 planets.

Ah well, off to BOfH, then a pint I think...

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Coat

Personally I blame Tom Paxton for this.

As you can see (and hear):

http://www.tompaxton.com/lyric_pluto.html

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Thumb Down

Wow

"US scientific propaganda"

As opposed to what, the perfectly unbiased science of the UK?

Good to see nationalism is still alive and well in all parts of the globe.

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Pint

Ronald

also defies food definition. That does not prevent many to adhere the McDoo church.

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Anonymous Coward

But Pluto is a planet

nuff said.

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Coat

Aw shucks

We should consider ourselves lucky that they didn't go with "the eight planets and the Sun that orbit God's Earth".

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Boffin

ONLY 9?

They are forgetting quite a few:

Ceres, Pallas, Juno, Vesta, Astraea, Hebe, Iris, Flora, Hygiea ,Parthenope, Victoria, Egeria, Irene, Eunomia, Bellona, Leukothea, and Fides used to be planets; now they are *just* asteroids.

And on the outside, what about Eris, Makemake, Haumea, Sedna, Orcus, Quaoar, Varuna?

Or is that too much for the little darlings to hold in their head? It might cause them to forget the names of some of their Poke'Mon.

Have a Happy World Astronomy Week(end) and "Keep Looking Up!"

DX

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Anonymous Coward

Forget Pluto no longer classed as a planet...

...why is McDonalds still classed as a restaurant?

I'm sure the McDonalds brothers are spinning in their graves at the thought of the shite that is being served in their name. I've NEVER had a McDonalds burger that I haven't had to rebuild. The chips (yes, chips. They're made of potato, cut into strips and deep fried. Thats a chip!!) are always limp and barely warm. And their burgers have steadily got smaller over the years.... I'm sure a quarter pounder used to come (and fill) a box much bigger than it does now.

I even got told to "f*ck off" once at a drive through because I wanted to wait (in my car) half and hour while they got the breakfast ready... That was probably because the spotty staff hadn't yet finished wiping their arses on the McMuffins!

Oh BurgerKing, why have you STILL not kicked this shower of shite's arse yet???

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Paris Hilton

That's the American educashun sys sis ^H^H

No really, that is the American education system. The exam is a multiple choice:

Which Ronald sells delicious sandwiches in his restaurant [sic]?

1) McDonald (TM)

2) Pluto

3) Geoff Hurst in the 1966 World Cup final

4) Paris Hilton

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Boffin

@AC

"chips (yes, chips. They're made of potato, cut into strips and deep fried. Thats a chip!!)"

Actually, they are called "Frys" because they are not legally allowed to describe them as "chips".

They are formed from reconstituted potato not stips of the ground egg. Break one open and you will see that they are more like a tube, with the potato mash stuff (tm) forming the walls.

Thats all, carry on

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@Anihilator

I don't think we're allowed to call them dwarves any more. And I think Persons of Restricted Growth has gone out of fashion too.

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I states

@Richard 102. Passing a resolution about Pluto: takes a few legislators half an hour. Cleaning up Illinois politics: well, the US Attorney can send a bunch of people to jail, but it's always to be done over again. And even the Pluto resolution beats Indiana's narrow escape from legislating a bogus value of pi.

@AC: No, the burgers have not gotten smaller, they were never very large. The winner of the hamburger-eating contest at my high school (ca. 1973) said that it was basically a bread-eating contest. As for the fries, that depends on the staff. Not uncommonly one McD's will produce reliably edible fries while another five miles away will reliable produce limp and greasy ones.

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Flame

Bogus McD's Quizcards

The last time I had a McD's Quizcard was about 8 years ago, some music question which my music-mad boyfriend went "thats wrong".

We took the card to one of the UK tabloid papers and sold them it, along with the story. Got about £1000 for it.

The story being .. don't blag it on the internet, flog the story to the newspaper!

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Joke

Futurama

"Attempts by nerds to eliminate one of them are as doomed as attempts by (similar?) nerds to change the emphasis when pronouncing Uranus."

Obviously you've never seen Futurama then.

FRY: This is great, as long as you don't make me smell Uranus. Heh heh.

LEELA: I don't get it.

PROFESSOR FARNSWORTH: I'm sorry, Fry, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all.

FRY: Oh. What's it called now?

PROFESSOR FARNSWORTH: Urectum.

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Just a Mistake

Except for avid amateur astronomers, and laypersons with an intense interest in science... and, of course, practising scientists, probably a lot of the general public has not even heard of the IAU ruling on Pluto's status.

As a result, had they given the correct information on their Happy Meal, they would probably have been inundated with complaints about having gotten the number of planets wrong - as opposed to the much smaller number of correct omplaints they're now getting.

So it could just be sheer ignorance... or malice aforethought with the intent of keeping overhead for customer relations lower.

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Alien

loads

I saw a TV documentary last night hosted by the guy who used to be McGyver.

According to them there are litterally hundreds of planets in our solar systems, alot that support life too. They were able to get there by a ring like device with water in the middle.

Fascinating really.

So 8 or 9 is just irrelevant.

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Pint

Is a straight path through curved space-time the same as an orbit?

When the whole of physics education is based on pretending the fabric of reality is simpler then it actually is.. who is truly qualified pick (black) holes in what goes onto a happy meal for small kids.

Chill.. the designer might be ignorant of cosmology, but at least they didn’t say “god created 9 planets 3000ish years ago”

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@Seanie Ryan

...and they all look an awful lot like Vancouver. What are the odds?

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Illinois not alone

New Mexico also declared Pluto to be a planet while overhead:

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.nl.html?pid=23558

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Politics

I read about the controversy when the IAU "decided" Pluto wasn't a planet. It was actually quite political and dirty... they just could not come to an agreement. How they finally agreed.. well, they didn't. The "Pluto is not a planet" crowd actually waited until a bunch of the "Pluto is a planet" guys were out of the building and called a vote then. I don't know if they even had a quorum, maybe the rules for IAU don't require one.

Personally, I don't see a good reason to not consider Pluto a planet, rather than making up a new category just for Pluto. It's not the same as the other planets for sure, but when it's been considered a planet this long, and didn't have any other clean category to put it in, I just don't see the harm.

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Happy

There's a dwarf in space

eating a beefburger? And this affects me how?

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Boffin

If Pluto is a planet

Does that mean that Charon is also a planet, as their centre of mass lies between the two of them?

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Anonymous Coward

Simple pleasures . . .

A friend of mine, on the occasions when he visited McDonalds', would insist on asking for a sandwich. When the bemused PFY told hime they didn't serve sandwiches he would point at their own menu boards.

A kinder, gentler age.

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Paris Hilton

How could Pluto be overhead

When he's the god of the underworld?

Is Illinois part of the lunatic bible belt? Should they really be advocating non-christian myths?

Paris because he knew what happened when you got on the wrong side of the gods.

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Pluto IS still a Planet

Forget the word "plutoid," which almost nobody uses. Pluto IS still a planet, and kudos to McDonalds for recognizing that and not blindly following a controversial dictate by four percent of the IAU, most of whom are not planetary scientists, that was enacted in violation of their own bylaws. McDonalds is not alone--hundreds of planetary scientists led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto, signed a formal petition immediately rejecting the IAU decision. They prefer a broader planet definition in which any non-self-luminous spheroidal body orbiting a star is a planet. The spheroidal part is important because it means an object is large enough to be rounded by its own gravity, a state known as hydrostatic equilibrium. By that definition, our solar system has 13 planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris. No one should be forced to accept the IAU's nonsensical definition, which states that dwarf planets are not planets at all and defines objects solely by where they are while ignoring what they are. Notably, according to the IAU definition, if Earth were in Pluto's orbit it would not be a planet either. A definition that takes the same object and makes it a planet in one location and not another is useless.

Kudos to McDonalds for standing up to the IAU, or rather, to the tiny percentage who hijacked the 2006 vote to promote their own agenda. Their definition is already being ignored by many scientists and educators and will go the way of the dinosaurs once New Horizons flies by Pluto in 2015 and shows it to be a planet with geological processes, differentiation, and weather similar to those on Earth.

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Boffin

@Laurel Kornfeld

Regardless of your acceptance of the IAU's definition of planet, there are not "nine planets" in this system. Either there are 8 (if you count the major planets) or there are a heckofalot, if you start counting every dwarf (and dwarf candidate) out there. Apart from the "traditional" 9, there are (as you stated) Ceres, Haumea, Makemake and Eris (the current "dwarf planets.") There are a lot more though. Vesta, Ixion, Huya, Orcus, Quaoar, Varuna, Sedna and a half yet more other "numbered but not named" bodies should also be (depending on your view of the IAU's ruling) either dwarf planets or simply "planets."

Oh, and Charon should also be chucked in there as the center of mass between Charon and Pluto is between the two bodies, resulting in a "double planet."

The point being made here is that we have moved well past the era where the Sol system can be considered to have "only 9 planets." Teaching that to the next generation is about the same as teaching that Russia (along with many surrounding countries) are still called the USSR.

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doh

Laurel Kornfeld, I like your definition of hydrostatic equilibrium + orbits star. Mainly because it's scientific. Except, what if you had 2 objects the size of Mercury (same size) orbiting each other and the sun at the same time? Or Ganymede? Now what if you have Ganymede orbiting Mercury? Do we pick larger one by volume, mass or diameter to be "the planet" and the other(s) moons, or?

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Silver badge

Bah!

I'm with McDonalds here: stuff those so-called "scientists" who can't think of any real science to do on their own and so waste everyone's time renaming stuff already done.

They ought to be made to pay back all the grant money *and* and scholarships they got on account of it being obtained under false pretenses.

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FAIL

If I recall correctly...

Pluto failed the planet exam by not clearing it's orbit of debris. Since we have filled our own orbit with debris, we can no longer consider the Earth a planet. Comments?

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Boffin

Sounds like it's an old leftover poster...

...and I can't believe people are still wasting time on that "Pluto Should Be A Planet" pissfight. Still, I can't help being nostalgic for the days when our solar system had nine planets and an asteroid belt between the rocky planets and the gas giants, and it was simple and elegant, and it worked, and it was good.

But, seriously, folks... stop me if I'm wrong, but aren't there several Kuiper Belt Objects larger than Pluto, and technically large enough to be considered planets?

Aren't there also a couple of inner asteroid belt objects that classify as Almost Planets?

That's not to mention worlds such as the Jovian moon Ganymede (larger than Mercury?), and the Saturnian moon Titan (also larger than Mercury?), both of which would've been independent planets had they not been captured into orbit around their respective gas giants? Hell, man, Titan has an actual atmosphere, with a meteorological cycle, and everything.

Oh, and let's not forget that there's a certain school of thought among astronomers that considers -- or at least used to consider -- Jupiter to be a "failed star" owing to its being a gas giant which is a strong radio source? I recall something to the effect that it's a failed star as it couldn't quite generate enough pressure at its core to ignite and become an actual star...meaning that we actually live in what's called a "proto-binary" star system.

I could be wrong. Any astronomy geeks, feel free to chime in on this one.

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Alien

For the full story...

Thanks for a good laugh on a Friday ... For all the dirt about Pluto's demotion (and my defense of the little guy), give a look to a book I've just written on the subject, "The Case for Pluto." As for Ronald McDonald's ruling, I guess I'll have to wedge that into the paperback edition somehow.

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When I use a word...

Thanks to Laurel Kornfield for his contribution, but Stern's definition is as problematic as anyone else's if not more so. The Earth and many other planets are not perfectly spherical so what then counts as 'spherical'? The 'fact' is that there is no such as an objective 'fact' (erh - I think) - Wittgenstein says all language is just a game. The real issue, I think, is hinted at in Kornfield's post: NASA have launched a several billion dollar mission to a planet, and half way there they get told they are not going to a planet at all. No wonder they are cheeseburgered off. But this does seem like a USA-against-the-rest-of-the-world thing. Stern boasted that American Astronomical societies had the authority to 'overturn' the IAS decision. So much for democracy there.

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Headmaster

@Stephen Channell 13:44 GMT

"Chill.. the designer might be ignorant of cosmology, but at least they didn’t say “god created 9 planets 3000ish years ago”"

Crikey, there are a lot of people from the Bronze Age who just rolled over in their graves at that one, Stephen!

If you want to have a go at the creationists, how about getting your facts straight?

Alternatively, if you insist on waving your membership card to the Raving Looney Party, go right ahead.

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As i said to my boy

I dont give a dam what they say its still the 9th planet in my eyes

WE LOVE YOU PLUTO

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Nine Worlds I Know

In the Elder Edda, there is a passage about there being "nine worlds", one where we live, one for the Vanir, one for the Aesir, one for the Frost Giants, and so on. So, back when the Pluto debate was raging, I humorously suggested that depriving Pluto of its planetary status... might lead to Midgard being invaded by Frost Giants looking for a new home!

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